Recently anointed “City of Peace” by José Ramos Horta, Dili has not always been in the news for its serenity. However his dream is becoming a reality. Visitors will find some of the world’s best diving, plus migrating whales, international events and delicious seafood. All of this is agains a Portuguese backdrop, reminders of the Indonesian occupation and the struggles since independence.
By walking through the city you will find a variety of restaurants, bars and shops open most of the time. You can take a walk in the main avenue; take a look at the embassies, passing through the government palace and go down to typical markets with fresh fruits and vegetables looking tasty just by their colors.
The coast of Díli is always agitated since dawn to late night. Between the beach and the road there are parks with palm trees, offering a great spot to refreshing with a nice and fresh coconut. There’s a legend saying that who drinks coconut water in Timor, always comes back.
Dili is also a place of great hope, where East Timorese and people from around the world want to shed the decades of their legacy and become known for something food, something positive.
Here is also one of the best places if you want to meet the local people. Local fishermen unship all kinds of fish, shellfish and tempting lobsters at the beach, making this a reference point to find the freshest seafood in Díli. In the afternoon, after school, the children gathered around having fun, playing football or simply running at the beach. All day along peddlers sell some cold drinks, satay and a few snacks. At night you can enjoy tasty grilled fish dinner at a restaurant by the sea.
The beautiful Atauro island, about 20 miles (1 hour by fast boat) to the north, can be seen from Díli. Ferry or charter boats are available to get there.
No matter what your plans are in East Timor. Dili will play an important role in your trip. It’s your stepping-off point for seeing the country and where you’ll buy anything you may need for your travels. And it’s where you tap into the local juju to find out what’s really going on here and in the rest of the country.
When to go?
May is the start of the dry season and when the Sunset Fair at Cristo Rei is held. The dry season is also when the bulk of visitors descend on Dili. June has the Dili Marathon, while the Tour de Timor cycle race is held in September. In October whales begin migrating through the Wetar Strait. For those visiting around the major religious holidays,expect to see parades at Easter and ornately decorated nativity scenes in the lead-up to Christmas. Diving off the Dili coast is great year-round.